‘A tactic of last resort’: top doctor says Manitobans need to make significant changes to avoid another lockdown

WINNIPEG — One of Manitoba’s top doctors says another lockdown in the province is a last resort, but if Manitobans don’t make some big changes, it may happen.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s deputy chief public health officer, said the province is in the midst of a third wave similar to the situation last fall that prompted a months-long lockdown.

Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases are climbing – once again in the triple digits on Friday. Atwal said over the past three weeks, cases have gone up by 40 per cent per week. However, unlike the last time, Atwal said the province is dealing with variants of concern.

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“Without people significantly changing their behaviour, we will have to consider another lockdown,” Atwal said.

“It is a tactic of last resort, and it is not something that we really want to do, but if we have to do it, we will.”

He asked Manitobans to follow the public health orders, and even go beyond them, to protect themselves and others against rising case counts.

“We’ve asked Manitobans to follow those rules. We know some Manitobans aren’t following the rules,” he said.

He urged Manitobans to reduce close contacts, stay home as much as possible, and get tested if they have symptoms.

“Don’t think that just because you are young and healthy, you aren’t affected. Do your part to help us save summer.”

On Thursday. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister rejected calls for stricter COVID-19 measures amid the rising third wave. On Thursday, Pallister said the province already has some of the most stringent restrictions in the country.

He said the province has to worry about the economic side of another shutdown.

Atwal said on Friday that lockdowns are extreme, and said for every restriction, there are negative impacts, including impacts on mental health, finances, and social well-being.

He said public health is looking at other measures that could be used to tighten restrictions while avoiding a complete lockdown.

“We want to make sure that we strike that balance, that we are doing it only when we have to,” he said. 

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